Exploring Patient Perceptions of Noninvasive Brain Stimulation: A Systematic Review [Review]

SOURCE: Neuromodulation. 25(4):487-493, 2022 Jun.

AUTHORS: Stillianesis G; Cavaleri R; Tang CY; Summers SJ

OBJECTIVE: To synthesize and critically appraise literature exploring patient perceptions regarding the therapeutic use of noninvasive brain stimulation.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A systematic search of CINHAL, PUBMED, Web of Science, and Medline was performed. Reference lists of relevant articles were also screened. Studies exploring participant perceptions regarding the therapeutic use of noninvasive brain stimulation were eligible for inclusion. Perceptions were divided into three domains: knowledge, experience, and attitudes. Noninvasive brain stimulation was defined as any neuromodulation technique that alters brain activity but does not
require invasive methods such as surgery. No restrictions were placed upon study design or participant population. Two reviewers performed data extraction and risk of bias assessment. Data relating to methodological characteristics, participant demographics, type of noninvasive brain stimulation, and nature of perceptions (knowledge, experience, or attitudes) were extracted.

RESULTS: Four studies comprising data from 163 participants met the inclusion criteria. All studies investigated perceptions of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in psychiatric populations. Most participants perceived rTMS to be safe and beneficial, demonstrated low levels of fear, and were willing to recommend the intervention to others. No studies were found investigating patient perception of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).

CONCLUSION: The findings from this review suggest that rTMS is well accepted as a therapeutic treatment among psychiatric populations, providing support for its clinical utility. Future work is needed to determine if similar findings exist for other conditions (eg, chronic pain) and for other therapeutic forms of brain stimulation (eg, tDCS).